In My Kitchen ~ February 2014

I went missing in action in January due to Real Life getting in the way.  I posted in January that I wanted

To go with the flow.”

I should have been careful what I wished for!  The flow eddied and swirled, speeded up, flung me out at times.  That’s life in all it’s complexity and reality.  All I can do is to keep calm and carry on cooking!

So I’m back in Fenruary with my contribution to Celia’s monthly peep behind the curtains of kitchens all over the world.

In my Kitchen is :


A canister of Colman’s Mustard

It was 1814 when flour miller, Jeremiah Colman, took over a mustard manufacturing business based four miles south of Norwich.  At the time, George III was on the throne and Wellington was winning the Battle of Waterloo  (perhaps after enjoying a lovely dab of Colman’s with his Beef Wellington?).

As well as being very good at making and selling mustard, Mr Colman was an outstanding employer.  In 1864, 20 years before parliament made education compulsory, he built a subsidised school for his employee’s children. He also set up a kitchen to provide hot meals at affordable prices – today’s equivalent of a workplace canteen (except theirs never ran out of mustard).

Colman’s Mustard is known internationally as the English mustard and they say Colman’s fortune was made by what people left on their plates.

I like this powdered version for cooking as it mixes right in.


In my Kitchen is :

kilner bottle

A lovely little 70ml Kilner bottle, just the right size for a vinaigrette and practical as it will go in the dishwasher and I can get replacement seals.

Kilner jars are so ingrained in English preserving that the name ‘Kilner’ is used as a generic term ~ like we say that we ‘Hoover’ when we mean ‘vacuum cleaner’.

The firm was founded in Yorkshire (hooray!) back in the 1840s and has gone through various rocky times but is benefiting from the renewed interest in preserving as well as the move back towards glass for storage instead of plastic.

As a bit of useless trivia, Jeremy Clarkson is the great, great, great, great grandson of John Kilner, the founder.

In the interests of full disclosure, I admit to checking how many ‘greats’ that was.  The information came from an episode of  the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are programme.

And, for readers outside the UK, Jeremy Clarkson is a presenter on Top Gear, a rather laddish motoring programme, also on the BBC.


In My Kitchen is :

blue plasters

A cautionary tale!

In commercial catering establishments, wound plasters are coloured blue so that they will not get ‘lost’ in the food. In all my years of cooking, I had never considered this precaution necessary at home.  In fact, I can get on my high horse sometimes about the nannying that goes on in our society.

Oops!  I nearly lost a flesh coloured plaster into a bowl of bread dough.  If I had, I might not have realised it because both plaster and dough were vaguely flesh coloured.  Yuk.

OK. Lesson learnt. Solution simple.  Just buy some catering plasters.

Not so simple. Every chemist (pharmacy) I tried didn’t sell them and looked a bit cross eyed when I asked for them.  The only way to get them (that I found) is to buy them from a wholesale First Aid supplier.

I now have a very large pack of plasters which will, I think and hope, see me out.

If your chemist (pharmacist) sells them, don’t bother to let me know ~ it’s too late.

On the other hand, if you’d like a few blue plasters, let me know.  I’ve got plenty.


In My Kitchen :

bread starter

Is a starter for my next loaf of bread.  100g flour, 100ml water, 1/2 teaspoon of yeast. It sits for up to 24 hours before I add 220ml water, 400g flour and 1/2 tablespoon of salt.

It is known as a sponge and is an old method of starting bread. I’ve heard it called a ‘Poor Man’s (or Woman’s) Sourdough’ and, there are variations called Biga and Poolish.  They all come under the heading of ‘Preferments’.

Although it is not a true sourdough taste, it has some of the characteristics of that lovely method ~ but without the hassle of feeding and keeping it alive.

Why not virtually pop over to Sydney, Australia and call in at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Down the right of the page you will find links to all the cooks who are sharing their kitchens this February.  It’s well worth the click.

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11 thoughts on “In My Kitchen ~ February 2014

  1. Pat, I posted a Cuban bread recipe recently which I used sourdough starter in, but the original recipe called for a biga like yours. It’s a great way to add interest to yeasted bread without the work of sourdough! You know, I always thought Keen’s was the classic English mustard, I don’t think we’ve ever seen Colman’s here, but I’ll look out for it – love a company with a long history of good employee care. And I remember seeing that show about Jeremy Clarkson as well – did you know his other historical claim to fame is that his mother was the originator and maker of the Paddington Bear toys? We don’t have blue plasters, but we’re still working through the smiley face ones the kids had when they were little, so they usually show up! 😀

    • Celia, I had to check Keens!

      Keens was taken over in 1903 by Colmans.  Then Colmans merged with Reckitt and Sons in 1938 and became Reckitt and Colman Ltd.

      In 1995, Unilever purchases the condiment side of Reckitt & Colman. Reckitt & Colman retains the Colman part of its name and continues to make mustard – the famous American mustard called French’s. 

      The name Keens was kept outside the UK.

      Now the company is owned my McCormick Foods Australia and the mustard is made in Australia.

      What a tangled web for such a basic product!

      Yes, I knew about Paddington Bear.  I’ll save that bit for when I post about marmalade 🙂

      Heidiannie, I’m not a teacher but have taught social history to adults and I love history!  Thanks for your comments.  Much appreciated.

      I do use old dough sometimes as well but because there are only 2 of us now, I don’t bake bread as often as I did when I had hollow legged teenagers!




  2. Nice to have a little history with your post- are you a teacher- your presentation is well thought out and executed?
    I have never used a blue bandage, but then if I have a cut and a bandage, I use gloves to knead.
    I often use a poolish- I like the lift it gives to whole wheat flour breads.  Lately, though I have been using old dough for the same purpose.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love the history and the stories of the brands. Are there other quintessential Yorkshire brands Pat? for some reason I thought Kilner was German, so am delighted to hear that it is a Yorkshire company! Bread preferment looking gorgeous too! x Jo

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